Business confidence in Scotland rose 18 points during April to reach 30%, according to the latest Business Barometer from the Bank of Scotland.
Companies in Scotland report higher confidence in their business prospects at 41% and higher economic optimism at 18%.
Together, this gives an overall confidence of 30%, which is 18 points above last month’s figure of 12%.
Companies’ hiring intentions showed that a net balance of 13% of businesses in the region expect to hire more staff during the next year, up three points on last month.
Nationally, overall confidence remained unchanged at 32%, although firms’ confidence in their own business outlook fell five points to 31%.
The Business Barometer questions 1,200 businesses monthly and provides early signals about UK economic trends both regionally and nationwide.
Fraser Sime, regional director for Scotland at Bank of Scotland, said: “It’s encouraging to see firms in Scotland growing in confidence, especially given the challenging business environment.
“The rise in positivity was the biggest of any UK region, which bodes well for Scotland’s prospects during 2018, though we still expect levels to fluctuate through the year.
“The fact that a significant number of firms expect to recruit more staff, and that this figure is steadily growing, is a good indication that businesses are planning for growth with cautious optimism.”
Among different sectors, transport shows the strongest overall confidence at 56%, followed by communications 47%.
Hann-Ju Ho, senior economist for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “The fact that UK businesses’ economic optimism rose this month, against a backdrop of slightly eroding business prospects, is clearly good news.
“With more than half of firms nationwide more upbeat about the economy than they were at the start of the year, it will be interesting to see if that trend continues to grow as we approach the half way point in 2018.”
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement